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Factors on Generating Traffic to Your Blog: “
Over the last few weeks I’ve had three conversations with readers regarding different sources of traffic.
In each case I had a number of email exchanges with each blogger (all on the same day) and ended up laughing to myself at the common theme but extremely different opinions being expressed by each of the bloggers.
In each case the bloggers had strong opinions (and experiences to back those opinions up) on what type of traffic was ‘best’ and how to get it.
- In one case the conversation started with a blogger telling me that I focus too much upon social media traffic and not enough on traffic from search engines. Their niche didn’t work with social traffic but with search traffic they did best.
- In another case the blogger told me that they’d been told to forget about search traffic in their niche and work more on building traffic from other sites and to convert it into ongoing traffic with newsletters.
- In the last case a blogger told me that in their opinion the best type of traffic was social media traffic and they didn’t see the point in newsletters.
I was reminded through these conversations just how many different valid approaches there are to blogging. I also came away with a few thoughts that I thought I’d jot down here on the topic of driving traffic to blogs.
1. There are Many Valid Sources of Traffic
The above chart shows just 8 of many sources of traffic to a blog. As I write this others are already springing to mind (for example some bloggers run paid advertising to drive traffic to their blog – others get it from banner exchange programs). The reality is that there are many potential sources of traffic.
2. The ‘Best’ Source of Traffic Varies from Niche to Niche
As I thought about the 3 bloggers I was chatting to above it struck me that each had found great sources of traffic but that they were each operating in very different niches.
The first blogger who had written off social media was in a niche that people were simply not using social media for (I won’t reveal the niche as I don’t have their permission but it was a very very niche focused blog). Perhaps they could have driven a tiny bit of traffic with social media but for them Search was a much better place for them to invest their time.
3. Different Sources of Traffic Will monetize differently
Another important factor to consider is that some sources of traffic will monetize ALOT better than others. I’ve found that search traffic can work very well with AdSense for example (it depends upon the niche and intent of the reader). People arrive on your site searching for specific information, read your content, see an ad that relates to their search term and click on it.
RSS readers on the other hand don’t tend to convert for AdSense as they tend to be loyal readers and many don’t even click through to your site to read your content. RSS readers (and social media traffic) however can convert really well for affiliate promotions or selling your own products to.
4. Traffic Patterns Change over the life cycle of a blog
As a blog matures its sources of traffic often quite naturally change.
There’s no typical one size fits all pattern to this but at first the traffic might mainly come from other blogs or forums where you comment – or blogs where you guest post – or articles that you write. In time you might start to see more traffic from RSS or newsletters as a few people subscribe. Perhaps then some traffic will come from other sites who link to you (people who subscribe via RSS might have their own blogs) and from social media. After a while your search engine ranking might kick in as a result of the links from other sites and your guest posting and article writing and you might start seeing Google traffic. Once your blog is more established you might start seeing social bookmarking viral events that spike your traffic.
Again – this is not going to be the pattern for all blogs but in time traffic will naturally start to come from different places – the key is to try to leverage it for ongoing good (trying to get your blog to be sticky rather than just having one time visitors) and to work out how to convert that traffic for the goals you have.
5. Bloggers should be open to different approaches
While each of the three bloggers had discovered great lessons and good sources of traffic for their niches and the life cycles of their blogs – I was left wondering in each case whether the bloggers were being a little too closed off to different sources of traffic that perhaps could have added to the overall mix of traffic.
I see a lot of SEO type bloggers write about the worthlessness of social traffic for instance. One common comment that I get from some SEOs (definitely not all) is that social media traffic can’t be monetized. The reality could not be further from the truth. It won’t always convert but it certainly can. For example I know in each of the E-book launches that I’ve done in two niches that I’ve seen significant conversions from Twitter traffic.
On the flip side of things I hear some social media focused bloggers write off SEO and say that it works itself out and you don’t need to optimise your blog for search if you just produce good content. While there is some truth in that (good content does tend to generate natural incoming links to some extent) with a basic understanding of principles of SEO and a few minor tweaks a blog can rank much better in search engines without compromising the integrity of the content.
I guess what I’m getting at is that if you get exclusive about the type of traffic you are after you could actually be limiting the potential of your blog’s incoming traffic.
6. Too many Eggs in One Basket Can Be Dangerous
I used to be very focused upon search traffic in my early days of blogging. I worked hard to optimise my first blogs for search and got to a point where I was making a full time living from the ad revenue I was getting almost exclusively from Google. As a result I got a little lazy in some of the other areas – I didn’t work to convert readers to be loyal with newsletters or with prominent calls to subscribe to RSS, I didn’t build too many relationships with other bloggers to generate referral traffic and I was very inactive in social media (although it was much more limited back then).
As a result when Google decided to adjust their algorithm one day and my rankings dropped (and almost completely disappeared) in their results I lost almost all of my traffic – and as a result almost all of my income.
I was lucky in that Google readjusted their algorithm a couple of months later and I regained a lot of (but not all) of that traffic but in the mean time I looked for and found a ‘real job’ – and more importantly learned an important lesson about the power of having more than one source of traffic.
That experience was the beginning of me doing a few things that included working harder on capturing readers as subscribers (email and RSS), networking more with other bloggers in my niche and getting more involved in promoting my blog in other places (mainstream media, social media etc). My hope in doing all of this was to build up other sources of traffic so that if Google ever switched off my traffic again (temporarily or permanently) I’d at least have enough traffic to survive.
Google still does send me around 40-50% of my traffic (it varies a little from blog to blog) but I’m in a position now where I could survive for an extended period if it all disappeared (not that I’d like for that to happen).
7. The Importance of Personality and Being Yourself
I’m sure there are other factors that are at play that might be worth considering when looking at traffic. One of these (that I’m yet to fully think through) is personality type.
For example a lot of my my technically thinking friends seem to enjoy the challenge of SEO a little more. They love experimenting with and testing what happens when they make small tweaks to different aspects of their blogs. They’re constantly testing different setups and do quite well from it. I am not technically minded and find their attention to detail very very unusual (and so far from where that I’m at that I feel like I’m from another planet).
Other friends are perhaps a little more social by nature and as a result seem to do well on Twitter.
Others seem to do better by applying their freakish ability to write blog posts that get tonnes of links from other sites and which do brilliantly on social bookmarking sites..
Others are networkers and spend a lot of time interacting with other bloggers and site owners and tend to get links and traffic that way.
Others just seem to be brilliant at building community on their blog and as a result retain almost everyone who ever comments and build new readers from those people telling their friends.
I guess the lesson here is to be yourself and work with your strengths. Of course you don’t want to let your strengths dominate so much that you ignore or become lazy in areas that you’re not as strong in – but do follow your natural abilities and leverage them as much as you can.
Remember that there is no wrong or right way to generate traffic for a blog. If you were analyze the sources of traffic on many top blogs you’d find quite different factors at play!
(Via ProBlogger Blog Tips.)
We’ve already talked about using RSS as a business intelligence tool, but how do you choose the right software to get maximum benefit out of your news reading? With a number of options and myriad features on multiple platforms, it can be a daunting task to even get started.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of what you might consider when shopping for a news reader. Do you need cutting edge, up to the second information at your fingertips? You might want to look at ‘ticker’ style applications that scroll new headlines continuously. Or maybe you need to monitor a large number of feeds but are primarily interested in a subset of specific keywords or topics. In that case, you’d want to look for an RSS reader that supports a Smart Folders or Saved Searches feature.
If you need to keep news feeds in sync across multiple platforms, from Mac to Windows or from the web to a desktop or mobile clients, there are solutions out there for you too. Many of these readers also help you share individual articles and posts with your colleagues and collaborators as well. Let’s take a look at some of the options available online, on your desktop and on your phone.
The reigning king of online newsreaders is currently Google Reader. One of the advantages of an online RSS reader over a desktop version is accessibility: you can use it from any web browser, even if it’s not your primary computer, and all your feeds will be exactly the way you left them. Of course, one of the disadvantages of a web-based newsreader is that you typically need an active internet connection to make use of them, whereas a desktop client can download feed items you can later read offline.
One of the areas Google Reader excels, however, is in its ability to also sync with various desktop and mobile clients. Not only does that give you some measure of offline access to your feeds (as does installing and enabling Google Gears), but it prevents you from having to sort through some of the feeds you’ve already read elsewhere when you switch from your computer to your phone, or even from web to desktop client. We’ll look at some of the desktop and mobile clients Google Reader syncs with in the next two sections.
Another potential option in this category is NetVibes. Though it’s officially classified as a Start Page moreso than an RSS reader, it can import and monitor news feeds along with a number of other apps or widgets designed to bring various types of information into one at-a-glance interface. NetVibes offers far more flexibility and customizability than a straight up RSS reader, but the downside is it’s not the best solution to monitoring a large volume of feeds. Google also has a similar product dubbed iGoogle worth checking out as well.
If keeping news feeds in sync between a Macintosh and a Windows computer is part of your requirements, you’ll want to take a look at two industry-leading news readers on their respective platforms: NetNewsWire and FeedDemon. Both of these readers sync with Google Reader, making cross-platform feed reading a lot more painless. Even if you don’t need cross-platform compatibility, both readers are full-featured and worthy contenders for your desktop feed reading needs. Both offer the ability to watch for specific keywords or set up saved searches that automatically bring up important topics in your niche to the forefront of your news reading sessions.
Another worthy option on the Mac is Shrook a free RSS reader that syncs back to the web to keep your feeds in line whether you’re reading from your Mac, iPhone, or any computer with an internet connection. On Windows, take a look at the free and open source RSSOwl.
For a news ticker type experience on either the Mac or PC, check out Snackr, an Adobe AIR client that continually scrolls headlines from your feeds across your desktop. This type of news reader can be handy for those who want to be able to see stories at a glance without having to switch back and forth between applications or browser tabs.
On the iPhone, Reeder is a solid mobile client that syncs with Google Reader. Newsstand is another iPhone client that does so, along with the ability to easily export or send stories to a number of external sources like email, Twitter, delicious and more. There’s also a special iPhone-formatted version of Google Reader you can simply use in the Safari mobile browser that works quite well.
On the Android platform, FeedR is a great option for reading feeds, with a free demo version and a reasonable $0.99 version that removes certain intermediary dialog boxes. You can import feeds from an OPML file and even cache feeds for offline reading as well. For a solid client that syncs with Google Reader, check out NewsRob.
Palm webOS users might want to see if the iPhone-formatted Google Reader works for your needs; it’s not specifically customized for Palm devices yet still tends to work rather well. BlackBerry users can also access Google Reader in the phone browser, or check out FreeRange or Viigo. Windows Mobile users can also use the browser method to access Google Reader, or try the free NewsBreak Lite or YoMoMedia, which syncs with its own web-based feed reading client as well.
Don’t hesitate to spend some time shopping around and trying several clients before settling on your feed reader of choice — or even continuing to use more than one at a time. Thanks to the OPML standard, it should be a relatively simple process to export and import your feeds from one client to another. This means that building a master list of news feeds in one client is highly worthwhile, since it can travel with you even if you move to a new RSS reader down the road.